We should await Chris Snowdon’s take on this

Keep an eye on here.

The average Briton consumes 50 per cent more calories than they think they do, according to the first estimates from the Office for National Statistics.

The new data show that men are the worst at kidding themselves – typically consuming 1,000 more calories than they estimate every day – while women eat about 800 calories more than they account for.

My first take is:

The new PHE advice, in the One You nutrition campaign, will say adults should limit lunches and dinners to 600 calories each, with 400 calories for breakfast.

Those behind the campaign say overall recommended daily consumption levels are unchanged- at 2000 calories for women and 2500 for men – but that the guidance is a “rule of thumb” to help people cut back.

This is still markedly (like, 20%) lower than wartime minimum ration.

It still ain’t that we’re all eating more.

Witness intimidation now?

Having briefed the staff in the office in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, that an investigation was under way, the main part of the investigation commenced. During the investigation 40 witnesses were interviewed. While the investigation was still in progress, the line manager of one of the suspects leaked an investigation report to an unconnected member of staff.

This resulted in three of the suspects physically threatening and intimidating one of the witnesses who had been referred to in the report. This incident led to further charges of bullying and intimidation against these three members of staff.

Someone should ask Emma Watson

Completely off topic, but I see on the BBC that Emma Watson has donated £1m to something called the UK Justice and Equality Fund, which is a campaigning group on sexual harassment. As this does not appear to be a charity, and is not a registered political party, I assume she will be receiving a big inheritance tax bill from HMRC in due course, just as those donors to the Brexit campaign did?

A comment from Jim on this very blog.

Why not just make all housing cheaper by building more homes of any kind?

Ministers are planning to build just a sixth of the affordable rented homes needed to meet demand, according to a damning assessment of England’s crisis-hit housing market.

Nearly 600 extra low-cost rented homes need to be built every week if demand is to be met, as more low-income families are locked out of owning their own home. However, the government is only planning to deliver an extra 100 a week under current proposals. It means that demand is outstripping new supply by 500 homes a week, according to new analysis by the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) thinktank. It said that this exposed government building plans as “woefully short” of what is required.

Building a new mansion increases the supply of housing buy that one unit that then brings down, infinitessimally to be sure, the price of all other houses as supply increases relative to demand. Do this a few hundred thousand times and we’re getting there.

It’s also true that the mansion gets occupied, meaning one smaller and more affordable house becomes free for occupation. After all, that is how it works. Cheaper housing tends to be the older stuff, no?

Are we supposed to snigger or shout in rage?

The widower of murdered MP Jo Cox has quit two charities set up in her memory after sexual assault allegations from his past resurfaced.

Brendan Cox denied sexually harassing two women while he was married to the late politician, but accepted “inappropriate” behaviour, saying: “I made mistakes and behaved in a way that caused some women hurt and offence.”

He has left posts at More in Common and the Jo Cox Foundation after the Mail on Sunday published accusations made by a former colleague while they both worked at charity Save the Children in 2015.

Owen on housing

Neoliberalism is a con, a fraud, and Britain’s housing crisis vividly illustrates why. The populist promise of neoliberalism has always been about extending choice for the individual. In a properly functioning society – which sadly we do not have – young Britons would be able to choose between a comfortable council house on a secure tenancy, a privately rented home with an affordable rent and security, and home ownership. All of these options have been trashed.

Hmm, as a fully paid up neoliberal I know what I propose to deal with that.

The Tories built this system of endemic insecurity,

Well, no, they didn’t.

The post-war Labour government committed to building council housing to a higher standard than private housing: that pledge must be revived. Local authority-backed mortgages should be promoted on a mass scale; and both stamp duty and an unjust council tax system should both be abolished in favour of a progressive land value tax.

In the private sector, Labour is right to commit to an inflation cap on rent rises and three-year tenancies: but local authorities should be granted the power to impose rent controls, too. Homes which are left empty should face compulsory purchase orders, and then be transformed into council housing. Companies and trusts that aren’t based in Britain should be banned from buying up homes, too.

That’s not what I would do, no.

What I would do is blow up the Town and Country Planning Act 1947 and successors. You know, the Labour law which causes the problem in the first place?

When a defence is not a defence

It came as Tim Cook , the Apple Chief Executive, said he did not understand the “ferocious” criticism the company had received and appeared to attempt to defend his organisation by insisting they did not murder babies.

Tim Cook, the chief executive, claimed critics motivated by an anti-aid agenda were “gunning” for Apple leaving the company “savaged”.

In an interview with The Guardian, he said: “The intensity and ferocity of the attack makes you wonder, what did we do? We murdered babies in their cots? All we did was make damn great phones and obey the tax laws.”

Well, there’s abuse and abuse, you understand?

A leading children’s rights campaigner, who helped governments around the world tackle the issue of abuse, has been jailed for raping a 12-year-old boy.

Former UNICEF consultant Peter Newell admitted three counts of indecent assault and two counts of buggery and was sentenced to six years, eight months in prison.

His concentration upon no one smacking the bottoms of little boys may have had some prurience attached to it, no?

So new rules weren’t and aren’t needed then, eh?

More than 100 BBC presenters are facing tax bills that could run into hundreds of thousands of pounds after a former star lost her case against HMRC.

Christa Ackroyd earned more than the Prime Minister as co-host of the regional Look North programme on BBC One.

She was paid as a freelancer through a personal services company at the BBC’s request, but HMRC ruled that she should have paid the same level of tax as a BBC employee. Ms Ackroyd must now pay back £419,151.

If the current rules already catch such cases, what need for change?

And let us not forget something very important. Who is really going to face a tax bill? Well, the BBC as well, no?

For what service companies do is lower income tax a bit (the combination of corporation tax and dividend tax isn’t so different), employee national insurance disappears. But then so does employer national insurance, something with no cap at what, 13.8% of income? An amount the BBC is going to have to find, no?

This is the thing that really drove those personal service contracts and companies in the first place. BBC tax dodging.

Re a comment below:

She added that the £419,151 figure did not take into account corporation tax she had already paid through her personal service company. She is considering an appeal.

As several people have pointed out

Third, the charities need to reconnect with the public. It is easy enough to make the case for humanitarian aid when there are famines, floods and hurricanes, and that is reflected in the generosity with which people respond to disaster appeals.

But most of the Ggovernment’s aid budget is spent on longer term development work – and here voters are more sceptical about whether the money they are providing through their taxes is being spent well. Together, the development charities and the government need to be more vocal about where aid is making a difference, as well as more honest about where it has failed.

Trade, not aid.

One could even craft a policy here. IDA costs some £11 billion a year. That would make a nice little training fund for those temporarily displaced by unilateral free trade. So, why not do exactly that? The trade would lift more out of poverty in the first place, we get to say we’re spending it at home, on us. And we kill off Oxfam along the way. What’s not to like?

Note that this isn’t even supposed to be an economic policy (that would be just have the unilateral free trade anyway), it’s a political one.

Akin to the £350 million battlebus for the NHS of course.

Well, yes and no

Oxfam refused to ban staff from using prostitutes saying it would “infringe their civil liberties”, a training manual has revealed.

The guidance, still available on the charity’s website, says that they “strongly discourage” their workers from paying for sex but a total ban would be “impractical”.

Freedom of contract does mean they can insist on the idea. As employees can refuse to sign such a contract.

There can also be a more general term, not to do anything illegal. Or to create disrepute for the organisation.



MPs have accused the “big four” accountancy firms of “feasting on what was soon to become a carcass” as it emerged they banked £72m for work linked to collapsed government contractor Carillion in the years leading up to its financial failure.

How much of that is mandatory under the law? What would be a likely audit fee? That is, how much of that £70 large odd is because the MPs insisted?

Chomp, chomp, chomp

Ministers have launched an investigation into claims that foreign aid officials brushed off allegations of child abuse committed by aid workers.

Priti Patel, who ran the department until November, writes in the Telegraph that the Oxfam prostitution scandal is only “the tip of the iceberg” but that her own officials had “dismissed” her concerns when she raised them.

Oxfam, one of the world’s largest charities, is facing mounting criticism over its handling of sex allegations, but has denied it tried to cover up the use of prostitutes by workers who were supposed to be helping victims of a major earthquake in Haiti in 2011.

Oooh, look, the left is eating itself.

Not thatr I actually know this but my guess so far. Save the Children told on Oxfam and the tarts in Haiti. Oxfam then told on StC and Jo Cox’s widower. So StC told on Oxfam and Chad. And someone’s now stirring further.

This might be the only prosecution but do we think it’s the only case?

A serial fraudster has been jailed for 21 months after he pretended his wife and son were killed in the Grenfell Tower fire in a “despicable” attempt to pocket £12,500 set aside for victims of the disaster.

Anh Nhu Nguyen was pictured beside Prince Charles and gave TV interviews posing as a survivor of the disaster, in which 71 people died. He did not live there but at an address in south-east London.

Really, not a surprise at all

I’m a little shocked that this hasn’t been happening more:

Engineers at Russia’s top nuclear research facility have reportedly been detained after they attempted to mine bitcoin on its computers.

Several employees at Russia’s nuclear centre in the city of Sarov have been detained after making “an attempt to use the work computing facilities for personal ends, including for so-called mining”, a spokeswoman for the centre, Tatiana Zalesskaya, told Interfax news agency.

Various governments have huge chunks of computing power. I would expect (recall, I spent some time in Russia, I have a view of the use of govt assets driven by experience) more of this to have been happening.

State funding of political parties

A political group linked to Ukip has lost a legal attempt to restore EU funds that were suspended over fraud allegations, adding to financial pressure on Eurosceptic parties.

The European court of justice rejected an appeal by the Institute for Direct Democracy in Europe for the release of €670,655 (£587,389) in EU funds, which the organisation had been denied, pending an investigation by Olaf, the EU’s anti-fraud office.

I know precisely nothing about the details here.

However, look at what happens when the state, and only the state, funds political parties. Here it’s fraud allegations – again, I know nothing – but think of the power that this gives the authorities. Allege fraud, delay grants, party/organisation falls apart and, well, what does truth or reality matter?

But of course this never would happen, would it, the establishment would never be so brazen as to kill off, say, a populist party in this manner.

No, never.

By the way, how’s Vlaams Block doing these days?

We’re paying for this research

Researchers from Queen’s University Belfast, in collaboration the University of Manchester and the University of Gothenburg (Sweden), have uncovered new evidence to suggest that the Sicilian mafia arose to notoriety in the 1800s in response to the public demand for citrus fruits.

Arguably one of the most infamous institutions in the Western world, the Sicilian mafia, first appeared in Sicily in the 1870s and soon infiltrated the economic and political spheres of Italy and the United States.

Dr Arcangelo Dimico, Lecturer in Economics from Queen’s Management School, and the research team hypothesized that the Sicilian mafia rose to power due to the high public demand for oranges and lemons following physician James Lind’s discovery in the late eighteenth century that citrus fruits could prevent and cure scurvy, due to their high levels of vitamin c.

I read this a few years back in a book about the Mafia that had been published at least a decade before.


What in buggery?

Google and Facebook could be forced to help fund quality news publishers after Theresa May said the decline of print journalism was “dangerous for our democracy”.

The Prime Minister announced a wide-ranging review of the media industry to “preserve the future of high quality national and local newspapers in the UK” to counter the rise of so-called fake news.

The Government wants search engines and social media sites to pay traditional news providers their “fair share” of the vast digital advertising revenues reaped by the likes of Google on the back of content they do not pay for.

Mrs May is prepared to legislate, if necessary, to force online platforms to share some of their profits with news-gathering organisations.

Gillette should pay to retrain barbers? Red flag makers taxed to pay for farriers?

What is this stupidity?